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Current Crop: June 09

By Graham Holliday :  02/06/2009 :  Comments (25) :

I have taken a look, once again, at the ?current crop? of players at Everton Football Club. This will be my fourth of these assessments ? previous articles:

May 2008: http://www.toffeeweb.com/season/07-08/comment/fan/article.asp?submissionID=7473

September 2008: http://www.toffeeweb.com/season/08-09/comment/fan/article.asp?submissionID=9174

February 2009: http://www.toffeeweb.com/season/08-09/comment/fan/article.asp?submissionID=10909

Having now been a year since my original article (written at the end of last season) ? I will not only assess the current strengths and weaknesses of the squad as I see them, but also comment on the progress that has been made in strengthening the squad and resolving weaknesses that were identified at this time last season.

I have noted how long each player is contracted to, but the club does not seem to note this on player profiles and so have had to do my own research. Please feel free to correct any mistakes I may have made in this regard, and I am sure many of you will be on hand to correct my analysis of the squad?s strengths and weaknesses!

GOALKEEPERS:

Howard (contracted until 2014 ? pending)
Nash (contracted until 2010)
Turner (contracted until 2011)
Ruddy (contracted until ?)

May 2008: I claimed that Howard was a good first-choice but that we probably needed a reserve ?keeper in addition to the inexperienced Turner and Ruddy. This has since been addressed though we have never actually required Nash to stand in.

June 2009: I expect Howard-Nash to remain first and second choice, though am beginning to wonder if Moyes thinks Turner/Ruddy will ever cut the mustard. Possibly expect one of them to leave (Turner, most likely) and another youngster signed in the hope that they may one day make the grade.

DEFENDERS:
Hibbert (contracted until 2012)
Baines (contracted until 2012)
Lescott (contracted until 2012)
Jagielka (contracted until 2014)
Yobo (contracted until 2014)
Coleman (contracted until ?)
Irving (contracted until ?)
Mustafi (new signing - pending)
---
Jacobsen (contracted expiring)
Valente (contract expiring)

May 2008: I claimed Neville-Yobo-Lescott-Baines was probably first choice, and that we may need to improve at right-back.

June 2009: Neville is indeed first-choice, but as a midfielder not defender, and Yobo?s claim to a starting berth has been thrown into doubt by the sparkling form of Jagielka. In defence, we have 3 excellent centre-backs and an outstanding left-back, but the cup final has only served to demonstrate that Hibbert is not good enough as a first choice right-back for a club hoping to challenge the Sky 4. Jacobsen may have done enough in the latter stages of the season to justify a contract extension, though Valente?s excellent service at the club will surely end here. If Jacobsen signs, no more right-backs will be acquired, and with the versatility of players like Lescott, Neville and maybe even Rodwell, Moyes might decide his priorities lie away from the defence ? though this could leave us perilously short of numbers should the injuries stack up.

MIDFIELDERS:

Neville (contracted until 2012)
Rodwell (contracted until 2014)
Arteta (contracted until 2012)
Osman (contracted until 2012)
Pienaar (contracted until 2011)
Gosling (contracted until 2012)
Cahill (contracted until 2012)
Fellaini (contracted until 2013)
Kissock (contracted until ?)
Wallace (contracted until ?)
---
Castillo (loan expiring)
Van Der Meyde (contract expiring)

May 2008: I claimed that we were severely depleted in midfield, though possibly hadn?t accounted for a much-improved Phil Neville or quite the impact and number of games Rodwell and Gosling would have for the first team.

June 2009: I still think that we are short of numbers here, especially on the wings. Moyes often deploys 5 midfielders, and with Castillo and Van Der Meyde unlikely to remain at the club beyond the summer, we only have 8 senior midfielders; and that includes Rodwell and Gosling! With Neville, Rodwell, Arteta, Cahill and Fellaini competing for the 3 central spots in a midfield of 5, expect Moyes to search high and low for a winger to supplement the excellent Pienaar on the left. If we had the resources, I?d hope for an additional creative central midfielder to be brought in to relieve the pressure from Arteta, but am unconvinced this will transpire.

FORWARDS:

Yakubu (contracted until 2011)
Saha (contracted until 2010)
Vaughan (contracted until 2011)
Anichebe (contracted until 2011)
Baxter (contracted until 2011)
Agard (contracted until ?)
Jutkiewicz (contracted until 2011) ---
Jo (loan expiring)

May 2008: I claimed that with a fit James Vaughan, we had the 4 decent strikers a premier league side needs ? but that I?d like to see Johnson traded for an improved model.

June 2009: I don?t think many would doubt that Saha is an improvement on Johnson ? but only when he is fit. We were unfortunate that Yakubu suffered a nasty injury, but with Saha and Vaughan also often injured, Anichebe was left as the only senior forward ? and he suffered from injuries and loss of form as various stages of the season. Whether or not Yakubu returns as good a player as he was before his injury, I would still like to see another striker brought into the squad ? possibly with Anichebe departing to part-fund a new player. Though, once again, I suspect limited resources may dictate that there are no major signings in this position.

SUMMARY:

The core of the squad is very strong, and with 3 or 4 improvements, I would feel confident that we could mount a serious challenge to the Sky 4 for the coming season. However, what would it cost to bring in 3 or 4 players of sufficient quality to improve a team that has finished in the top-6 three seasons running? For me, the priority is a right-winger, a right-back, a creative central midfielder and a replacement for Anichebe. As many do, I suspect we may see one signing that costs any kind of significant amount, with 2 or 3 additions on loan or free transfers. And this might not be enough to catch 4th placed Arsenal who I would not expect to see on as low a points tally as they did this season.

Reader Comments

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John Meredith
1   Posted 03/06/2009 at 15:10:15

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Fear not, top 4 will be ours next season. The squad is a young one and is only going to improve anyway.

Obviously Hibbo has played his last game as first choice right back now. Phil Nev will take this next season, who offers a lot here both defensively and offensively, not to mention his vocal abilities as captain.

Arteta, Moutinho & Rodwell will be picking the ball off the back 4 next season (so no more pointless long punts), they will be playing keep ball in there and almost impossible to depose of possession as they are so comfortable with it, as is Pienaar.

The wide midfield positions will be battled for by Ossie, Pienaar, ?The Goose?, Ledley, and Baxter, while we have Cahill & Fellaini for the attacking central midfield roles. So that?s not too bad.

While up top the likes of Saha, Owen, Yak,and Vaughan all look rather tasty if fit and firing, while Cahill & Felli are top notch when required to play there.

Nothing can stop us finishing in the top 4 next season, not even Man Citeeh paying £100k a week and £12 million for a 29-year-old slow one-paced central midfielder today...
Rob Fountain
2   Posted 03/06/2009 at 15:23:48

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Good article Graham

I would like to see Moyes do something like the following:

Right back
- Sell Hibbert
- Sign Jacobson
- Use Hibbert money to finance signing of new first choice right back

Midfield
- new right winger
- new central midfielder (Mautinho?)

Strikers
- sell Anichebe
- sign Owen (on reduced wagers, poss PAYP)
- loan Jo for one more year (if possible)

with the sales of players new investment is not too excessive (except for midfield), and so acheivable.
Sam Morrison
3   Posted 03/06/2009 at 15:41:51

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Maybe I?m in the minority but I?d like to keep Anichebe. His goals-to-games ratio is poor, yes, but he is strong and direct and scares defenders. He?ll get better, especially if Moyes and Round can convince him to stay on his feet. Hopefully he?ll learn from the FA Cup strop as well.
Barry Sherlock
4   Posted 03/06/2009 at 16:31:41

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Sam Morrison; a minority of ONE
Arun Puri
5   Posted 03/06/2009 at 17:19:41

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I have been thinking more about formation, and existing players we have before thinking of reinforcements. The buys this season would depend upon direction DM wants to take from this season. It could be 4-5-1, with Arteta, Rodwell and Cahill as first choice mid fielders, along with Piennar and a new man at right mid (PN at right back). Or it could be 4-4-2. We have enough ball players now to be able to play it effectively, and we would need to buy another central midfielder in Arteta mode, Moutinho or maybe Fellaini can improve his passing game, and move Arteta to wing or vice versa, buy a right midfielder. In that case, PN can stay at right back, and midfield can be Piennar, Arteta, Fellaini/Rodwell, New Guy. Forward Line can be Yakubu and Saha/Vaughan/Anichebe/Preferabely a new player.

What we need right now, in priority from top to bottom
1. Right Midfielder
2. Central Midfielder if Moyes continues to play 4-5-1
3. Backup to Howard, a long term injury to Tim would leave us with a big hole
4. Striker
5 Right back, assuming Jacobsen signs.
6. A Premier League level centre-0back as backup, who should be rotated and give atleast 10 games in season (hoping for a 60-game season next year) or DM can blood a youngster in that role.
Ian McDowell
6   Posted 03/06/2009 at 20:04:39

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i think we need a right winger ie Lennon from spurs would be a great signing, a right back like Johnson from pompey great engine can get up and down and looks very effective going forward as shown against us at goodison, and a creative hard working midfielder, Moutinho has all the attributes for that role from what i read, but them 3 would cost approx 35m and with a transfer budget rumoured at 15 i like us to sign Moutinho and a few bosman players.
Stewart Littler
7   Posted 03/06/2009 at 21:15:45

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Note to all the dreamers - Moutinho has signed a new contract at Lisbon, and will cost 20 mill minimum, which we cannot afford.
John - you’re post sounds like you’re contemplating an assault on the top 4 with a team full of youngsters - we need more than that
Rob - we would not get any decent money for Hibbert, certainly not enough to finance a new first choice RB!!!
Sam - you are in the minority - Victor had his chance this year and never took it. The tackle which ended his season was horrible, and I feel for the lad, but I have seen enough of him to know that he is not good enough if we are to move to the next level
The reality is that our squad is not that far away from competing for 4th. I refer the reader to a post titled Barca-ton, the author of which I cannot remember. Whilst a little OTT, the basics of the post are that we just need to adapt our playing style a little more. We do need new additions, and there will be some. But before we all start dreaming of Moutinho’s, Johnson’s and Lennon’s, we need to consider 2 things - can we afford them? - and will their current club let them go? For the 3 mentioned above, no and no.
We will be looking for cut price additions, and this season has a wealth of talent in this market. We need a RM - Bentley is out of favour at Spurs, and will be allowed to leave on loan. We need a CM - Maniche and Scholes are 2 free transfers I would love to see in the Blue shirt - will Phil have a word with the latter? Me thinks its a big possibility. And we need a striker - is Owen the answer. A gamble? Yes, but with big potential if things go right. If they don’t, there’s always January. 4 players for nowt. Zip. Nada. That’s not to mention a swap deal of Anichebe for young Ledley, which I believe has mileage. And as one poster mentioned above, there could be up to 15 mill in the kitty as well.
These are all realistic options - and would all contribute to our squad greatly. I would love Moutinho as much as the next Blue - but sadly, I don’t think it will happen. But I still have confidence that with the squad we have, the returning players, and some additions similar to those I have mentioned, we can challenge. NSNO
Dara Vaughan
8   Posted 03/06/2009 at 21:05:30

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I feel incined to agree with Sam on Anichebe. I believed Moyes was trying to mould him into a right winger (ence the strop maybe) and he seemed loath to try it. Alright he often has the first touch of a rapist but he did show glimpses of explosive play. If he´s prepared for that experiment let him be otherwise the door for the number 9 role at PhilTans Hull Tigers (You couldn´t make it up). All in all a right winger is required an this really is your last chance BLUE BILL for me. Moyes needs funding for a decent right winger Moutinho etc. I´m inclined to believe with a good start next year we can get 3´rd or 4´th, i don´t want a repeat of last years farce even more so given the potential Kirby consequnces....
Lets plz get at Joaquin in the upcoming clearout at Valencia hell even Fernandes had his moments...I know hes aleftie but isn´t Pienaar originally a right winger?
John Vanderwerff
9   Posted 03/06/2009 at 22:35:30

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I am also in the minority that think Anichibe will improve. People forget so quickly he is only a young lad and is still learning his trade; give the lad a break; he was outstanding in Europe for us a year ago. I am not Tony Hibbert’s greatest fan, and yes he had a mare in the cup final, but again he is a good tackling defender. The problem is he also needs support from the midfield in front of him. Time for Leon to step up his game - no use playing well against the teams below us if we awnt to progress he needs to show it against the top four. But I think we also need to ask ourselves how tired some of these players are? Were they playing with knocks and niggles? We dont have the option to leave people out with our small squad. We need to buy a few more players or get some loans and keep what we have got! COYB
Peter Hall
10   Posted 04/06/2009 at 00:44:50

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Completely agree with the general view here. We’re not far off, we over-performed amazingly after Arteta was injured, held on for good results even after Jags went. Only the Final showed where we really are without the top guys.

With the few acquisitions we need - again completely agree with the general view - and a good start (!!) I think we can make it at Arsenal’s epense next year. I like Arsenal and have kept a careful eye on them as my favourite neutral team to watch, but I think they’ve lost the spirit and any sort of wobble will put Wenger under presure. We could take them.

On the Big Vic front, I think he could be a cracking player but his attitude is wrong. Instead of earning it he wants it given - he’s spoiled rotten. I have lingering hope for him. Are you listening Vic? The here goes.

You’re a big strong lad who can terrify defenders if you get a head of steam up. But once isn’t enough, followed by a whinge at the ref when a good defender sorts you out. This is the Prem - they will. These defenders are no more helpful than the cops watching a black man outside a jewellers.

Twice isn’t enough either.

Every time may not be enough at this level but for Christ’s sake try it. It just might be enough, I believe in you but only on these terms. OK Vic? Got it?

And by the way son, well done for playing on with that injury. It shows you’ve really got the Everton feeling, so if you get even one more chance - take it.
Billy Bradshaw
11   Posted 04/06/2009 at 08:14:14

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I may not be a big Tony Hibbet fan but please dont make him a scape goat for the final. He was unlucky to booked and never got any support from Osman who likes to drift infield.
I wouldnt sell Tony as there are games during the season that you will need his passion and commitment. The right side of the pitch is the worry, Osman cant do it as he has no pace.
Tony Williams
12   Posted 04/06/2009 at 09:01:27

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Well said Billy, Hibbert was only on for a half but somehow was the reason why we lost!, nothing to do with the despicable yellow card after 8 mins and the lack of cover from Ossie or the lack of marking on Drogba for his goal, Nooooooooo, it’s all Tony’s fault.

He, to me, is still the first choice right back until we can get a player to replace Neville in midfield and then he can drop back, even then I may be tempted to stick with Hibbert.
Coln Evans
13   Posted 04/06/2009 at 11:17:38

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Defence: Jacobsen being retained makes sense ? then he and Hibbert can fight it out (competition is good). We?ve all forgotten the shaky start Baines had?
We have 3 great Central defenders. My fear is that DM will sell Lescott (if Man City or Arsenal come in with a big bid) to fund some other purchases.

Midfield: We need Midfield creativity that?s the priority if we only have £15M this summer. Question is who - on a price/performance basis.

On strikers: Michael Owen on a free might be worthwhile - but we have to accept his best years have gone, along with his pace. Saha was a free from Manure and why? Because he is also finished physically and always injured. So both of these guys are stopgaps to get us thru a couple of seasons.

I pray the Yak can come good again after his injury. I would give Anichebe another season ? he might make the grade yet.
Also what is it with James Vaughan? I am sorry he isn?t up to it, why do you lot go on about him as some top striker. He?s a substitute ? but that is all, not starting 11.

David Ellis
14   Posted 04/06/2009 at 11:29:23

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I like Tony HIbbert. He is a good defensive right back. I would n?t hold the cup final against him. But I think both Jacobsen and Neville are better - particularly going forward. As we become a stronger team we will be going forward more than before and we need to keep and use possession better. That means that Hibbert is surplus to requirements and would be well employed by a team in the bottom half of the Premier League.

I would also say goodbye to Anichebe. He lacks the basic skill and first touch. Unfortunately that is not something that improves with age. It needs to be developed early in life. We may have to wait until January because of his injury. I think he could do a job for bottom half club - but frankly he is probably a Championship player.

Castillo, Jo, Valente and Van der Meyde will all leave. Rodwell has effectively grown into the role that Castillo was recruited for. Jo was cover for the injured Yakubu who will be back. I think we have done two seasons without Valente so can probably risk another without strong cover at left back (we have Neville and Lescott when needs must ? plus possibly the Irish kid we signed in January). Van der Meyde?s is the position that needs "replacing" .

What we need are two wide midfielders, and a fourth striker who is better than Anichebe. If we get that I will be happy.

Can?t understand the requests for extra central midfielders. All our midfielders prefer to play in the centre (including Pienaar) and they are all pretty good in that position ? what we need is width.

Leave it to Moyes to unearth something on the wings ? just needs to be better than what we have in that position (Osman) plus some cover. Pienaar is right footed and can play on either flank so it does not matter if the newcomers play on the left or the right.
Coln Evans
15   Posted 04/06/2009 at 11:47:55

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Also I forgot about Jô: would be nice to keep him ? but Man City will sell this summer and we cannot afford to buy (£ priorities being elsewhere).
Ian Kearney
16   Posted 04/06/2009 at 12:14:10

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Tony, I agree that Osman was equally to blame for another poor showing from our right hand side. Thats the area that needs targeting.

As regards Anichebe, he was starting to look a far better option down the right that Osman till he got injured, lest we forget is was a rampaging run that he got injured on. At the start off the season I’d rather see Vic lining up there that Osman any day
Trevor Lynes
17   Posted 04/06/2009 at 13:34:30

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Make that Sam Morrison minority of TWO... Anichebe has much better ball control than Vaughan and although his form has been inconsistent I am SURE he will improve. He upset Liverpool's much vaunted defence and has made some good contributions when coming off the bench... Mark my words, he is a better prospect than Vaughan!!!
Ciaran MacGiollaEoin
18   Posted 04/06/2009 at 15:46:01

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Time for some blood letting...

We ARE NOT close to Arsenal. We have a good spine of 5 or 6 players who might make it onto the bench of a top four side (or 2 or 3 who may get pitch time).

We will likely not have any money whatsoever to spend this summer..and this will be lead to bin-lid rattling outside Goodison... a period of deep pathos will follow and this crescendo of anger will reach fever pitch with Kirkby getting the go ahead. Elstone will leave to become a lap dancer and Keith Wyness will return to become the club mascot.

Enjoy this summer, because I?ve a feeling all will not be good at this club come next season.

I could however be wrong... in fact I hope to god I?m as wrong as I can be.
john meredith
19   Posted 04/06/2009 at 18:27:41

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Good point David. Hibbo is indeed surpless to requirements now and is only bottom half/relegation type full back. Phil Nev wil be our right back now,and I have no probs with Jakonsen as back-up as he’s a real steady eddie and doesn’t look like he’d get mudered by pace like Hibbo.

We have 3 world class kids coming thorugh ( Rodwell,Baxter,Barkley ). I watch these kids, this is why i’m super optimistic.

I used to laugh when Moyes used to talk about wanting /aiming to win the league. now i believe, you should all too........
Robert Jones
20   Posted 04/06/2009 at 19:06:53

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Whos that Barkley kid you mentioned?
Ian Kearney
21   Posted 05/06/2009 at 01:04:32

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Thanks for that Ciaran, in a world that constantly changes, I?m glad I can rely on you to see the negative in every debate involving Everton Football Club.
Ciaran MacGiollaEoin
22   Posted 05/06/2009 at 15:37:11

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Ian,

Perhaps you’d prefer it if I put on a wheat dress and danced around a statue of Bill Kenwright?

If you don’t like cold hard facts...then ignore them.

For instance...we now apparently have 3 ’world class kids’.....that would probably be more to your liking...after all - it is a load of bóllocks...but at least it’s positive eh!
Ian Kearney
23   Posted 05/06/2009 at 16:30:29

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A lot of fans do get ahead of themselves with their predictions, but is it not equally ridiculous tp predict total destruction at every turn?
frank nolan
24   Posted 06/06/2009 at 22:05:01

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I don’t believe in knocking any of our players, but when a post opens with "I like Tony Hibbert" I just stop reading.

What is this Michael Owen love-in all about? We would not be signing the Owen who used to score for fun with a blistering turn of pace over 10 yards. That is history. Injuries and age, now touching 30, mean he is now damaged goods, just can’t deliver any more. Ask the barcodes.

I’d be amazed if DM had even considered signing Owen, who doesn’t tick any of the boxes required of a club challenging for the top 4.
Steve Blackman
25   Posted 07/06/2009 at 16:03:35

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A well-written and articulate piece there Mr Holliday, but although I am satisfied, if that is the word with our current sqaud, there is always room for improvement , the close season is now upon us, a lot of names have been, and will continue to come to the fore on who is coming to Goodison before August, it was hard to ignore Owen may or may not be on his way, I was a little excited about that, but for now we will keep a close eye on developments at the club and I look forward to see what Mr Moyes does in the way of transfer activity this summer, it’s going to be interesting.


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